It’s that time of the year again, a time for love, laughter merriment and overindulgence!
This year I’ve really got my work cut out for me. My husband and I are spending Christmas at my parents house, and in addition to my five brothers and sisters and their families, there will invariably be a hundred other people popping in, passing by, or simply related, who will need to be fed and watered. This Christmas I’ve been charged with the task of bringing over a box (or two) within which I will endeavor to match and compliment every foodie variant. When you consider that the guests will be Nigerian, Hungarian, Croatian, German, Indian and English, you may begin to see my dilemma!
Christmas day! Lets start with the all-important welcome aperitif. Rather than Champagne, Cava or Prosecco, this year I’m including a rather unusual Chilean sparkling wine, called Fresita. Made with Patagonian strawberries, this vibrant pink fizz is a huge hit with the ladies in my family, and at only 8% alcohol, it’s a safer start to the festivities!
Roast glazed ham works best with wines that have a high level of acidity and a touch of sweetness. For white I’m including a Gewurztraminer (my mothers choice not mine, honest!), and for the red wine lovers, something not too heavy and which won’t drown out the flavours, a lightly chilled Australian Pinot Noir. Chilled red wine! Sacrilege I hear you say, but it’s really quite lovely.
Roast Turkey, the main event! A simple roast Turkey pairs nicely with a Chardonnay (yes really) or white Burgundy. Chardonnay adds flavour and complexity to the meat, whilst the Burgundy depending on the style, will add a leaner flavour with more minerality. I haven’t decided between the two yet, so I may have to take them both, what a shame! If red wine is desired for this dish, I will serve a lovely light Beaujolais.
I love Turkey, but it doesn’t seem to entirely satisfy all the Africans and Eastern Europeans among us, and so Beef (or sometimes Goat), is always a necessity at our family gatherings. Prime Rib is so tender and flavourful, it deserves a wine that stands up against all that flavour (and which isn’t afraid of the horseradish!). It’s tempting to start popping the corks of giant reds, however, I have decided to go down the more elegant route befitting high quality, rare meat. My choice is New World Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. Prime Rib needs its structure and tannins but the meat’s tenderness calls for its youthful energy.
Christmas isn’t Christmas, without a host of fortified wines and my choice for this year are the classics, Sherry and Port. For me these are the bottles that are the most versatile over the festive period and the lead up to New Year. When visitors pop round, and a full meal isn’t needed, fortified wines come into their own as an accompaniment to little snacks, creating an unusual cheese board, or on Christmas day, with a selection of festive cakes and puddings.
Here are a few pairing ideas. Manzanilla Sherry, the palest, finest and lightest bodied Sherry is particularly good with strongly flavoured seafood, and an excellent match for smoked salmon and other savoury nibbles, such as green olives and Serrano ham. Tawny Port is great, because it has so many possibilities. Serve it chilled as an aperitif, or as a substitute for dessert wines, especially with dried fruit and nut-based desserts, or with the cheese board. It’s particularly good with Sheeps cheese and Cheddar. Last but not least, is Vintage Port. This classic Christmas tipple is the ultimate match to Stilton, or for those with a sweet tooth, top quality chocolate.
I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year, because as the bearer of this beautiful wooden wine gift box, I really should get to try all of the above. After all, it’s only fair!